The Great Cessation

Not being quite certain whether the title refers to the end of the lawsuits related to Mike Scheidt’s interim band, Middian, or whether this is his way of saying that the reformation of the band he is best known for is a one-off kiss this ass goodbye proposition – hope not – I am quite certainly thrilled to have a new YOB album to spin, as despite the departure of bassist Isamu Sato, The Great Cessation could be considered a great return to form, that is, if Scheidt had ever left the form to begin with. The form of course is legion, that is, a labyrinth of doom metal styles built off a foundation of the psychedelic Sabbath-worship of Cathedral, Electric Wizard and Sleep with songs drawn out to funeral doom length, accompanied at times by that subgenre’s guttural reverberated vocalizations when not generally complemented by Scheidt’s helium-huffing high end lyricism.

Within the first of the nearly thirteen minutes which comprise “Burning the Alter”, I can already say to my own, and hopefully to your, satisfaction, that this new album will not disappoint the expectations of the band’s cultish fanbase. As “The Lie That Is Sin” drags the listener further into the murky muck, it is clear (actually it’s pretty bleary) that the band is hearkening back to the sound of their first album, the excellent Elaborations of Carbon. This is, of course, a pretty damn good thing, except when Scheidt attempts some of the guitar heroics which were more prevalent on later albums; as such efforts often get a bit buried under Sanford Parker’s thick as shit production. It is also apparent that working with Parker also influenced them by osmosis as the emphasis on an alternately ritualistic, tribal, and even martial ambience which pervades the album is at times quite reminiscent of the producer’s band, Minsk. Towards the end of “Silence of Heaven”, this atmosphere turns downright disconcerting with Scheidt apparently performing a duet with himself, sustaining deep growls over a wretched tantrum of dry heaving howls, similar in approach and effectiveness to similarly freaky shit you might have heard on Swarrrm or early Bethlehem albums.

Having thus expelled those demons, “Breathing From the Shallows” allows drummer Travis Foster out to play a little more, a relatively more traditional doom song here, with some heavy as balls riffs bouncing off his heart thumping beats. I can’t find much to comment on regarding newbie Aaron Reiseberg’s bass playing, ironically, because this is one of the most bass heavy productions I have ever heard, and it is only on the final twenty minute title track’s intro that his instrument becomes individually distinguishable. Like the song which preceded it, the album closer is more akin to the material on the band’s second, and in my opinion best, effort, 2003’s Catharsis. Epic, flanged out traditional 70’s style classic hard rock balladry struggling under the weight of viscous slabs of slow motion sludge, a soulful sense of futility, a neverending story of sinking in the swamp of sorrows. Utterly epic and crushing in a way that gives those overused adjectives new meaning, the song and album title The Great Cessation here possibly referring to the simultaneous burning of instruments by any and all pretenders to the throne of the slow and low. A definite contender for best metal album of the year, as for doom metal specifically, four years later there are no contenders in sight.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
July 23rd, 2009


  1. Commented by: Facial La Fleur

    I need to hear this. I was so pissed when they broke up. Glad to see ’em back.

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